This flight report already posted in French here requires an introduction. At that time, I was stationed in the Chinese speaking world (Beijing, then Taipei), but my wife had kept her job in Paris. The deal with both companies was that she would join me four times a year for a vacation together, and that my company would pay her round trip flights to somewhere in Asia.
I am fortunate to work in a company which flies its staff in J on long haul routes, so she got to fly business to join me (we flew Y on the local flights which were at our expense).
Mrs. Marathon does not share my interest in flying, but had decided that time to offer me the means to post a FR on her return flights from DPS, killing time plane spotting from Garuda's lounge. She killed all the more time that DPS-SIN flight GA840 departed late, and landed 1h35' late in SIN.
That meant reaching SIN at ETD-20 minutes for Flight AF257 to CDG. Mrs. Marathon had already some experience of flying alone on a delayed flight, and knew that she could expect the situation to be handled at best in a well managed airport like SIN. She was not the only PAX connecting to the flight to CDG (a summer vacation in Bali is extremely commonplace), and electric cars were already waiting for the passengers having the tightest connections to bring them as quickly as possible to their respective boarding gates.
So five PAX board one of these golf cart-like electric transports heading to AF257's boarding gate which was unfortunately at the far end of the airport. With its flashing beacon, it looked like a VIP convoy making its way with difficulty through rush hour traffic, because SIN's thick carpet muffled the sounds, so idling passengers had little warning to move out of the way. A stopover at the connection counter: the other passengers checked in on the internet and already have their BPs, but Mrs. Marathon did not get it when checking in the old way in DPS. She explained that no, the other passengers had no intention to leave the waiting electric cart – the staff at the connection counter had a hard time understanding that they were not like her.
It was crowded at the safety check, families with half asleep children who made the gantry ring, and there is something of a traffic jam. She was correctly oriented to the Elite / front classes BP check count, and then to the front jetbridge: nothing special so far.
Only when she entered the plane did Mrs. Marathon pay attention to her seat number on the BP that she had hastily received a few minutes before. Mrs. Marathon had been upgraded. Upgraded in P.
When she told me that on Skype the next day, I turned white. I have been upgraded twice in thirty years (including once with her), and there she was, upgraded twice in three weeks, because she had been upgraded in P on her incoming CDG-SIN flight too. She had been pampered by the FAs on that twelve hour flight and I had been dreadfully jealous of the FR that I could have posted if it had been me. Mrs. Marathon had found it a very pleasant experience, and had hinted (to no avail) that she really should fly P from now on.
- OK, what was the aircraft type? Do you have the registration number? - I don't know. It was a big aircraft because it was really crowded at the luggage delivery and there were stairs inside.
When it comes to plane identification, Mrs. Marathon started from the same level as I did a few years ago, but never tried to make any progress. She had a hard time sharing my enthusiasm on spotting some unusual planes in Indonesian airports, but knew nevertheless that I would like the float plane that she spotted in DPS while waiting for her flight. This Cessna 208 was actually the first plane with floats to be posted on FR.
The same, at full original resolution. Note the small rudders at the rear of each float!
Her classification of planes is limited to three categories:
- Small planes, where she feels unsafe, especially in tiny biturboprops like a Do-228, or a Dash 8 in bad weather conditions - Medium sized planes, which are reassuring - Large planes, which take a long time to board, and an even longer time to recover your luggage from
The existence of a staircase in the plane reduced significantly the hypotheses, and it did not take me much time to find out that AF's flights to SIN were then operated with either a 388 or a 77W, and to tell her that she had flown on F-HPJE, which did not impress her much (me neither, actually). It had been delivered on 17 May 2011, which matched the brand new look. I doubt there are worn 388s nowadays, though.
Given the circumstances, and this being a night flight, plane spotting in SIN (which is mostly non plane spotter friendly, anyway) is limited to this symbolic picture. I did identify the type of the LH aircraft. Mrs. Marathon's expectations were beyond my limited abilities.
There is a beautiful view on Singapore' harbor when taking off at night, but you need a much more sensitive camera than our compact ones.
Do you mean that you do not find my night pictures of ships pretty?
Furthermore, when you fly in P, you are far from the window; that makes taking pictures more difficult. : this confirms the superiority of the other classes (in Y, you can be VERY close to the window, in some aircraft).
Since she arrived last in a completely full P cabin (and since she had been upgraded, you can guess that the flight was full), Mrs. Marathon did not want to embarrass the other PAX by taking a picture of the cabin. No, she did not think about taking it from the rear – it was her first flight report. You know what AF's P cabin is like in a 388.
Next comes the dinner, and this is the menu. Sorry, it is the French version, because FR becoming bilingual was a kind of insider joke at that time.
And the actual food:
The meat was badly overcooked: a total failure.
This picture explains at last why you do not have three kinds of cheese in business class on AF flights: this luxury is for the first class only. No, you cannot have cheese from two different kinds of milk, nor is wine served in stemmed glasses: these basics of French food etiquette have disappeared from AF's catering rules.
OK, the picture of the dessert is missing, but nearly all is there. As compensation, this is the tiny box of four chocolates that we share when she landed in DPS on the way in, and which disappeared from the P service on the way back. Or maybe she was already asleep when they were distributed after dinner and they did not leave one. It was really very tiny, but I didn't use my measuring tape then.
With regards to the drinks, Mrs. Marathon chose Barsac wine (that the FA curiously pronounced Barzac) which she found very good. It was not the most appropriate wine for this meal, but her deliberate choice on grounds of her taste (I do not drink wine, so I would not comment on that).
Yes, this dinner was good (apart from the meat), but that was far below the quality of what Mrs. Marathon is used to having in the 5* hotels in Paris during her international business meetings. (I would have refused these wines if they had been served that in one of these meetings)
The FAs were also below those of the incoming flight when she had been pampered in a P cabin with few passengers. She did not find them especially attentive, nothing special compared with an ordinary flight in J with AF. They were slightly disappointing, without an obvious error fault. For instance, an empty glass did not generate any reaction from them: she had to call them to get a refill.
A decoration detail: the silver and gold seat's controls, with a different rendering depending on the lighting (with and without flash). Mrs. Marathon did not test the back massage functionality.
Mrs. Marathon notices the unusual presence of a changing room, accessible to both men and women, but has been surprised to discover than only one-legged women have access to the toilets (she knows my interest for pictograms). She nevertheless did not respect this restriction.
Mrs. Marathon brought back this amenity kit
The thick and comfortable slippers were in the nonwoven red bag, wrapped itself in a thin protective plastic bag decorated with AF's seahorse, which appears red, because the seahorse is transparent and the red bag is seen through it – a simple and efficient design.
I later took the picture of the P pajamas which she brought carefully.
- I do not understand, you received two sets? - Of course, one on the way in and one on the way back. When I fly long haul on AF, I travel first class. :)
Neither AF nor my company took this hint to upgrade her for our next vacations.
Note that the packaging changed between early and late August, but not the contents. Mrs. Marathon did not wear this pajama during that flight, but did have a good night's sleep on both flights, contrary to the flights in J where she is much more sensitive than I am to slippery lie-flat seats.
After sleeping well in the full-flat bed, Mrs. Marathon did not see the buffet. How about the breakfast? Mrs. Marathon did not want the hot meal, and found the rest so ordinary that she forgot to take a picture.
Arrival on time in CDG. The P cabin was possibly full of upgraded J passengers only, because there was no P welcome staff in CDG.
Mrs. Marathon waits for her luggage, and eventually realizes that it did not make the connection in SIN. No, it did not help to go to AF's luggage office, because they could not locate her luggage. Their reassured her that there had never been any luggage lost in SIN, but she had to wait until the last luggage had been delivered to be sure. She did not appreciate being an hour and a half later than expected in her office (an hour and a half to deliver the last Y luggage!)
Flight GA240 had landed thirty minutes before Flight AF257's pushback, so this was no real surprise. I remember a very tight connection in Kai Tak (the unforgettable former Hong Kong airport) because of a typhoon, where I had walked at a brisk pace guided by an airport staff and boarded at the last moment, and where my luggage had made it too, much to my surprise. But it was Kai Tak and it was CX connecting flights.
The usual procedure to have the luggage delivered at home ensued, given that it would take the next flight, which meant the next day. Do not be fooled by the RUSH luggage tag: the luggage which reached CDG on Flight AF257 on 28 August at 6:10 am was received by the delivery company at 18:30 to be delivered on 29 August between 10am and 3pm inside Paris.
When one of my pieces of luggage was intercepted by the Dutch customs in AMS and took the next flight (only one hour later), the delay had been the same. The day after landing in CDG, Mrs. Marathon called AF's hotline and the staff handling her call made it clear that it was extravagant to expect a faster delivery.
Mrs. Marathon had a hard time convincing me that she had no clothes at home and that this was a major nuisance, but we did agree on one point: delivering in Paris the luggage of a J customer 30 hours after it had reached CDG is utter disdain for customer service.
10, 250 EUR? it is definitely not worthit!: that was Mrs. Marathon's instant reaction when she found the round trip's list price. She joined the opinion of FR's seasoned specialists of this tiny market.
Singapore - SIN
Paris - CDG
This English version and the improvement of FR's grading system are an opportunity to revise the rating of this flight.
The flight was on time, but having to wait until the last luggage was delivered ruined the on-time performance. And then, not being able to deliver the same day in Paris a piece of luggage which lands in CDG very early in the morning is another bad point for both AF and CDG. The crew was below expectations and the food on board even lower.
Due to the tight connection, she evidently had no time to go AF's lounge in SIN, be it J or P.
SIN handled perfectly the tight connection for passengers, and it would not have been reasonable to expect that the checked luggage would make it too.
All in all, the assessment is that of a gifted child who does not try hard: can and must do much better. Disappointing compared to its potential, should set himself seriously to work.
(CDG : 8/7/6/8)
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